In a futuristic world, a strict regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions: books, art and music are strictly forbidden and feeling is a crime punishable by death. Cleric John Preston is a top ranking government agent responsible for destroying those who resist the rules. Whe he misses a dose of Prozium, a mind-altering drug that hinders emotion, Preston, who has been trained to enforce the strict laws of the new regime, suddenly becomes the only person capable of overthrowing it.
Directed by: Kurt Wimmer
. Starring: Christian Bale
, Dominic Purcell
, Sean Bean
, Christian Kahrmann
, John Keogh
, Sean Pertwee
, William Fichtner
, Angus Macfadyen
, David Barrash
, Dirk Martens
, Taye Diggs
, Matthew Harbour
, Maria Pia Calzone
. Music by: Klaus Badelt
This movie when looking at it is clearly one inspired by the wardrobe of The Matrix and even has these nigh-on unstoppable fighters on their side. I will admit when looking at this I thought it would basically be THX-1138 as an action movie and with those expectations in mind I was correct but to me the dystopian future stories that do resonate with me usually are frightening because of it being seemingly realistic or in the case of Blade Runner does show something worth thinking about after the movie's end and this unfortunately has none of that.
The plot is that World War 3 has erupted and ceased, the world leaders in the aftermath see that the one way to eradicate all wars or crime is to impose a new system wherein the citizens are drugged to not feel anything and instead just be part of a complete system. All art is destroyed to avoid the risk of people feeling (which begs the question of whether or not this is a placebo). The Clerics are also born, an organization dedicated to raising Gestapo imagery and murdering anyone not in the system. We follow one Cleric slowly rebelling and overthrowing the system.
Okay, I really do have questions about the functionality of the world. After reading 1984 that book does set the standard for this because that book shows us a system that's grown too powerful to be overthrown and here, people act like they feel in this world. I know it's weird but when one character high up in government outbursts in anger I thought Christian Bale would report him to the authorities (this was while still hooked on the system). My interpretation of this would be them being purely of logic (well when emotions are taken away what else is there?) but while that does start out to be the case by the end characters show so many signs that they're feeling it really is a wonder whether or not it is a placebo. The dialogue also screws this up in many places.
Oh and one other thing. I almost predicted the entire movie. It is seemingly there to say "a world without emotions is bad"... I knew that! I also feel as though one of the twists of this movie really drags things down. Christian Bale's son turns out to have stopped taking the compulsory drugs as well. I hate to bring up 1984 but a section is about how parents feared their children and it did look like they were going with this and I liked it because it was an interesting dynamic that I had never seen before on screen (at least in something that wasn't an evil kid horror movie or that one Twilight Zone episode).
Okay what do I like about this movie? I actually like Christian Bale's performance, it really does seem like he knows how to make things interesting when being both unfeeling and feeling. The cinematography, I'll admit is excellent. I love the use of lighting this movie has and framing it's just brilliant. I also think the fight scenes were creatively shot as well if a bit disorienting. While I did say I didn't like the twist about Christian Bale's kid (who also gives a good performance actually... at the start) I will say the twist about who "Father" (The person running the whole thing) is actually very good, I'll honestly say I didn't see it coming and when it's explained it doesn't feel like a cop-out and it's actually the most intelligent plot point in the movie.
Is this worth watching? As a mindless watch, yes. It works best if you don't really think about the world they set up too hard (especially with the Nazi imagery and the people wearing blue overalls, sorry for bringing this book up a third time in this review but I'm convinced it's a direct reference to 1984) and just instead focus on the cinematography and Christian Bale's performance. I wouldn't recommend this if you're looking for a thought-provoking dystopian future movie but it does it's job as something harmless.
Review by WakenPayne from the Internet Movie Database.